Note: If you missed our event, you can watch the recording here.
I will be joining a group of wonderful women writers, who like me are currently writers in residence at the Storyknife Writers Retreat, to read from our work! It will be via zoom on September 20, 2022, 6 pm, Alaska Daylight Time, and is free and open to the public. More info about that here. Hoping to see you there!
Note: If you missed our event, you can watch the recording here.
My debut short story collection entitled Love and Other Rituals goes on sale today in Australia and New Zealand, and Australia's LIMINAL Magazine has published an author interview with me to coincide with my Antipodean book birthday. You can read that interview here. LIMINAL is a magazine of Asian-Australian arts and culture, and I'm honored to have been given the opportunity to share this space.
Pictured above is the view from my cabin on a clear and beautiful evening at the Storyknife Writers Retreat in Homer, Alaska. I will be here for a month to work on my second novel while sharing this space with some amazing women writers, whom I meet every day at dinnertime to share stories and laughs over delicious food. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd get to visit this beautiful state.
Pictured above is the Australian cover of Love and Other Rituals, my debut collection of short stories about Filipinos at home, in the US and in Aotearoa New Zealand. It's been a rough and oftentimes disenchanting road to publication that began in 2016, and ended in early 2021 when Katherine Day and Sybil Nolan of the University of Melbourne's Grattan Street Press picked it out from the slush and connected with it beautifully. Born in the Philippines, raised in Texas, completed in New Zealand, and released into the world from Australia, I am proud to share this labor of love that was nurtured in different places. More about it here.
"A Queer Gender-Swapped Retelling of 'Frankenstein'": A Conversation With Addie Tsai for Electric Literature
For Electric Literature, I had the honor of talking to my friend Addie Tsai about Unwieldy Creatures, her queer, biracial, Asian, gender-swapped retelling of Frankenstein, out now from Jaded Ibis Press. Below is an excerpt from my introduction to our exchange:
"Critics often speak of Frankenstein as a cautionary tale about human ingenuity as it goes several steps too far in reshaping natural laws, but Tsai brings to our attention an aspect of Shelley’s Frankenstein that has become overlooked, and that is our ability as a human race to love and care for beings that fall outside society’s norms. Are beautiful and perfect bodies that conform to social norms of presentation and behavior the only bodies that we are capable of loving? I talked to Tsai, over email, about how the retelling of a classic tale can unearth such overlooked questions that are especially relevant today."
Read the rest of our conversation here and purchase your copies of Unwieldy Creatures here.
Ten years ago, one of my earliest short stories, "The Feast of All Souls", about a young girl who visits her infant cousin's grave in the Baguio Cemetery, appeared in the inaugural volume of The Masters Review, guest edited by Lauren Groff. Ten years later, I was invited to write a short essay about my long and circuitous path to publishing my debut collection of stories (watch this space for updates!) for their tenth anniversary issue, guest edited this time by Diane Cook. Reading my essay again, I feel glad for sticking around, for persevering throughout the setbacks and disappointments of this brutal business. The Masters Review and I have come a long way. More about their latest anthology here.
After witnessing the overwhelming (and confusing) support from overseas Filipino voters for the return of the Marcoses to power in the Philippines, I wrote an op-ed about Filipino immigrants (particularly Filipino-New Zealanders) choosing fascists to lead the country they left behind while reaping the benefits of living in a liberal democracy like New Zealand. NZ's The Spinoff ran it today, and I'm happy to have been given the opportunity to force Filipino-New Zealanders and many other Filipino immigrants abroad to confront the cynicism that has guided their willful destruction of my homeland. Here's The Spinoff's introduction to my piece:
While they reap the benefits of living in a liberal democracy, what compels those who left behind a country brutalised by the Marcoses to give them another chance? A deep-seated and insidious cynicism, argues Monica Macansantos.
Read the rest of my op-ed here.
It was my honor to have had the chance to review Grace Talusan's The Body Papers (Restless Books, 2019) for Anomaly/Anomalous Press! Here's an excerpt from my review:
In order to heal herself, she must violate an unspoken rule in the culture of her ancestors by speaking her truth, even if it leads to her family’s loss of face. The culture of silence Talusan’s parents were raised under becomes a burden on the entire family as they silently carry their traumas, both lived and inherited, in their bodies, and it is their daughter, Grace, who takes a courageous first step towards truth-telling and healing by writing this memoir.
Immense gratitude to Addie Tsai for selecting my work for AAPI Heritage Month! Read my review here.
"You Better Be Good or the Aswang Will Get You": A Conversation With Melissa Chadburn For Electric Literature
I am happy to share my first byline for Electric Literature, an author conversation with Melissa Chadburn on her debut novel, A Tiny Upward Shove, out this week from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Among other things, we talked about her use of the Aswang, a malevolent creature of Philippine mythology akin to the western witch, as a vehicle for reexamining societal notions of female rage, vengeance, and justice. Read our conversation here.
I had the pleasure of reviewing Gregory Spatz's What Could Be Saved (Tupelo, 2019), a collection of "bookmatched" novellas and stories about the world of violin makers and dealers, for Colorado Review. Below is an excerpt:
"What Could Be Saved succeeds in demonstrating how art can transform its makers by guiding them towards a reexamination of the self. In the case of the invisible hands who create these violins, the moments of transcendence they facilitate are made possible by their return to the physical and real in their craft. Like meditation, art is rooted in the world we inhabit, enabling us to reach seemingly impossible heights by opening our eyes to what has been with us all along."
Read the rest of the review here.